The Co-operative Group CEO Peter Marks has said he has the backing of the society's board, despite a leaked report revealing poor Somerfield sales.
The confidential sales data, received by The Grocer last week, showed like-for-like sales in former Somerfield stores converted to The Co-operative fascia down 12.2% year-on-year and by 14.1% in February this year.
Like-for-like sales in stores still trading under the Somerfield fascia were down 11% year-on-year and 13.3% in February.
"When you make changes in a business, you're bound to ruffle a few feathers," Marks told The Grocer in an exclusive interview. "The board are absolutely committed to me, the team and the progress we're making."
He said the society was on course to report "sparkling performance" and a hike in profits next year. This follows the 20% rise in pre-tax profits to £473m reported last month for the year to 2 January.
Meanwhile, speaking at the ACS summit in Birmingham this week, Tim Hurrell, MD of food retail, admitted that, although like-for-like sales in core Co-op Group stores had increased 5.5% overall during 2009, like-for-likes in Somerfield stores had fallen 2% over the period.
"There was a risk buying Somerfield but it was absolutely the right thing to do and this will be proven in the long-term," he said.
He added that once the integration was complete, the society would resume an "aggressive programme" of acquisitions.
Can The Co-op stem the leak in ex-Somerfield store sales? (8 May 2010)
As buying power increases, Marks’s promises are cheap (20 March 2010)
Marks: The Co-op can match mults on price (20 March 2010)